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7/31/2013 10:35:00 AM
Youths can learn from humble pope
Catholic News Service
Pope Francis embraces a boy as he arrives at a park to hear confessions in Rio de Janeiro July 26.
Catholic News Service
Pope Francis embraces a boy as he arrives at a park to hear confessions in Rio de Janeiro July 26.

Before he even set foot in Rio de Janiero, Pope Francis was already teaching millions of youth who were to attend World Youth Day a lesson in humility.

Saying he wanted to “knock gently” at Brazil’s door after touching down at Rio’s international airport Monday, he made a surprising request:

“I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you,” he said.

This small act of humility speaks volumes to the estimated 1.5 million young believers who flooded into Brazil last week. It said to them that the trip was as much about him spending time with them as it was a chance for them to spend time with the pope.

As the popemobile weaved its way through the streets of Rio, one could not help but notice the calm that overcame the church’s leader. His faith in God and in the believers who took to the streets was evident in the smile on his face, yes, but also in his fearlessness with the crowds of people who flocked to see him.

The press spoke of security woes and the unbridled enthusiasm demonstrated in the streets as Pope Francis made his way around.  But through the swelling crowds, the motorcade taking wrong turns, the delays, the heat and the overwhelming nature of it all, Pope Francis was there just as any pilgrim.

Speaking of young people, the pope said, “They want to find a refuge in [Christ’s] embrace, close to his heart, to listen again to his clear and powerful appeal: ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations.’”

We are always impressed by the fervor of faith of the youth at World Youth Day, but it was the humility of the church’s pontiff that caught us in the most pleasant of all surprises.

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